Page:Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains.djvu/35

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effigy out of the Seik dominions into the British territory, in the expectation, that on its arrival on the coast, the Governor-General would evince his friendship by transporting Saturn beyond the kalapance, or salt ocean. The credit of this ingenious device is due to Mudhsoodun Pundit, and other learned men, who, according to the statement in the Lahore ukhbars, recommended his highness to cause an effigy of the planet Saturn to be made of gold, set with sapphires, and to give the same, with a black shawl, to a brahmin of some other country, who should be placed in a rath, or car, of a dark colour, drawn by buffaloes instead of bullocks, and transported along with the image across the river, when, with the blessing of Providence, the maha-rajah would speedily recover.

This notable expedient was instantly adopted, and a golden effigy of the planet speedily constructed. When it was finished, a brahmin of the Chobal class, a native of Mutah, was found, to undertake this novel charge, who, after being bathed in oil, and his person blackened from head to foot, was clad in sable garments; when the effigy in question, with a pair of gold bracelets, five hundred rupees in cash, and a black horse, with a black saddle, were given, according to the rite called Sung-kluss. After being placed in a covered rath, drawn by a pair of buffaloes, the brahmin, accompanied by two battalions of soldiers, was ordered to be carried across the river. It is needless to add, that the instant that Saturn left Lahore, the maha-rajah nearly recovered; the farther progress of the planet was not stated, but it was supposed that his highness would be quite well before it reached Loodianah.

Runjeet Singh entertains crowds of dancing-girls at his court, and has, in his old age, scandalized the more fastidious portion of the community, by raising one of these ladies to the throne. The celebrated dancer, Gool-bahar, having frequently attracted the attention of her lord, at length obtained sufficient influence over him to induce him to make her his wife. The marriage was solemnized with all the pomp and splendour consistent with the rank and dignity of the bridegroom, made happy in the possession of a beauty, whose charms are stated to be transcendent. It is said that no report can possibly exaggerate the attractions of the lady, whose loveliness far surpasses any idea that can be formed of it.

Not content with the usual number of female attendants, Runjeet Singh has a band of amazons armed, and equipped as a guard to the Zenana; these women are splendidly dressed, and many are said to be very handsome, and great favourites of their sovereign.


A visit to the Hills, the common term applied in India to the inferior ranges of the Himalaya mountains, forms one of the most agreeable diversities which can occur in the lives of the European residents of Hindostan. Many are compelled to try the effects of a more bracing climate for the recovery of health; but the love of the picturesque, and a desire to seek amusement in change of scene, prove the principal incentives to a great number of travellers.